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IT seems that the mindset that drives segments of the establishment has not changed from the time that media censorship was in vogue in Pakistan. It is also apparent that some powerful elements did not like what Declan Walsh, Islamabad bureau chief of the New York Times, was writing. Mr Walsh, who was on Thursday told to leave Pakistan within 72 hours due to his alleged “undesirable activities”, has since left the country. Mr Walsh is a journalist of international repute who has covered Pakistan for nearly a decade, previously for the British paper The Guardian, and knows this country well. He has indeed written on sensitive topics such as militant violence and the Pakistan-US relationship, but we agree with the NYT that his reporting has been “balanced, nuanced and factual”. What is more, the authorities failed to provide any reason why they found the journalist’s activities “undesirable” when they delivered his expulsion letter.

The other troubling aspect is the timing of the orders. Mr Walsh’s visa was cancelled at a time when the country was preoccupied with Saturday’s general elections, and those who did not want him here knew this was an opportune time to strike. Previously, attempts were made to deny him a visa extension, but with the intervention of the political government the matter was resolved. It is unfortunate that the caretaker government did nothing to stop Mr Walsh’s expulsion, especially as the interim information minister himself is a seasoned journalist. The powers that be must realise that such efforts only boomerang and work to enhance Pakistan’s image as an unwelcome place for journalists. The media — both local and foreign — must be free to report the facts without any let or hindrance created by any quarter.

Comments (6) Closed

Imran May 13, 2013 07:54am
To the Paper:- What freedom of journalism can you expect on a day to day basis, when even after 5 years a common citizen is not free to cast his/her vote in peace.
Bubba May 13, 2013 07:41pm
One of the fundamental cornerstones of a real Democracy is a free press - otherwise you end up with a facade similar to Iran where Democracy is a name only. Expelling foreign journalist without any evidence just enhances Pakistan's image as a xenophobic and intolerant country.
Siyalkotia May 14, 2013 12:00am
So much about the Freedom Of Media. Islamic Republic Of Pakistan, Zindabad. Zindabad, Zindabad.
krishna prasad May 14, 2013 12:34am
Can I ask a question directly Dawn and others who read this from Pakistan? You vent your feelings that "the establishment" is doing this or that and is curtailing the freedom of judiciary, people and journalists, lawyers, baluchis etc., Who is funding the establishment to survive and thrive? You. Or did you think it is USA or others? No. right?. Go and remove the people creating nuisance to society and hold them fully responsible. Unite. Go out. Walk the talk. Get the voice heard.Stop extra-judicial activities forthwith. You get freedom to enjoy the breath of air you have around you.
Ahmed May 14, 2013 02:32am
Good editorial. Journalists - including journalists from globally respected newspapers like the New York Times - serve as the eyes and ears of the public, and most importantly the Pakistani public. As an additional service to the cause of freedom of the press in Pakistan, I hope you will also name the official and the agency he represents and demand that the interim government rescind the expulsion order.
Jalaluddin S. Hussain May 14, 2013 03:38am
I agree: "The media